Internet shutdowns to hit record high with 283 in 2023 due to armed conflict in Gaza and elsewhere

A survey by Access Now, a nonprofit organization that investigates internet censorship, found that 2023 recorded the worst number of internet blockades ever.

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According to a report from Access Now, 283 internet shutdowns occurred in 39 countries around the world in 2023. This is an increase of 82 shutdowns, or 41%, from 2022, when 201 shutdowns occurred in 40 countries, and is the worst figure since the organization began monitoring in 2016.

The increase in internet shutdowns around the world is driven by violence, including armed conflict and conflict. Of the internet shutdowns in 2023, 173 occurred in conflict zones, including the Gaza Strip, where 'Israeli forces used a combination of direct attacks on civilian communications infrastructure, electricity restrictions and technical disruptions to shut down the internet,' Access Now wrote in the report.

Specifically, Israeli military attacks have cut off the internet in Palestine 16 times.

Natural disasters are also a factor that cannot be ignored, with earthquakes in Turkey , Iraq and other regions in 2023, and floods in Libya resulting in approximately 12,500 deaths and missing.

Additionally, Ukraine, which has been under Russian aggression since 2022, has seen eight internet shutdowns, six of which were initiated by Russia.

By region, 116 of the 283 total incidents occurred in India, more than three times as many as the next highest in the world, Myanmar, which had 37. Nearly half of the 1,458 shutdowns recorded since 2016, or 773, occurred in India, making it the country with the most internet shutdowns for the sixth consecutive year.

Many of the internet shutdowns in India are implemented by state or other government agencies, and Access Now's report criticizes Indian authorities for 'proactively or reactively shutting down the internet as a near-default response to crises.'

In India, communication blackouts are sometimes carried out even in cases where human lives are not necessarily at risk, such as cutting off the internet on exam days to prevent cheating.

Internet in the region is cut off to prevent cheating - GIGAZINE

In light of this, Access Now said of the global trend in internet shutdowns, '2023 is the worst year ever for internet shutdowns by almost every indicator, and our research highlights worrying and dangerous trends for human rights.'

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